69  Ile never Love thee more/ being a true Love Song between a young/ Man and a Maid [Pepys 3.266]

Author: Anonymous

Recording: Ile never Love thee more (part 1)

Recording: Ile never Love thee more (part 2)

Bodies - looks/physique Emotions - jealousy Emotions - love Environment - animals Gender - courtship Gender - femininity Gender - masculinity History - ancient/mythological Recreation - music Recreation - walking

Song History

Ile never love thee more seems to have been the seventeenth-century equivalent of a ‘double A-side’, displaying two different songs on the same sheet. The earliest edition was clearly in circulation before 1620 (see Featured tune history), though surviving copies of the ballad all date from the period after 1660. A shorter version of the first song also appeared in the influential collection, Wit and drollery (1656). In fact, this seems to be the earliest version of the text that has survived.

There is greater textual variation between surviving editions of the ballad than is typically found among versions of other hit songs. Pepys’ copy and the Rawlinson sheet in the Bodleian Library are fairly similar but the Douce edition, also in the Bodleian, is a different matter. Although it shares a good deal of its content with the other versions, the composer also introduces six new verses to the first song, making room for them by omitting the second song entirely.

In 1621, Richard Burton’s famous book, The anatomy of melancholy, included the expression ‘Ile never love thee more’ in a section about the ease with which love could turn to hate when romantic relationships broke down. Since there is not much evidence to suggest that the phrase had extensive currency beyond the world of balladry, it seems likely that he was referencing the song during the first phase of its popularity (Burton also italicised the sentence, suggesting that it was a quotation or title). In the mid-1640s, this ballad was also sufficiently influential to inspire a celebrated poem by the Marquess of Montrose (see Related texts).

The success of the ballad perhaps had something to do with the striking contrast between the two songs. They invite comparison through their side-by-side positioning and their shared tune but they represent love very differently. The first song features a possessive, jealous man and a voiceless woman whom he threatens to imprison. The second song presents a man who must implore a spirited and resistant maid to take his suit seriously and believe in him. She delivers a greater number of lines than he does (the ratio is 27:19) and she eventually marries him only when the two individuals have become ‘united friends’. The man therefore meets his match in more ways than one. Of course, both narratives are framed within the bounds of early-modern patriarchy but there is plenty of material for discussion in the differences between them.

Another factor in the song’s success may have been the manner in which the anonymous composer(s) made particularly skilful use of tropes that also appeared regularly in other ballads. These include: the militaristic vocabulary that is used in the first piece with reference to courtship and male sexuality (volleys, scaling walls, drums, ensigns and sieges); the joke about women who wish to reclaim their virginity, here given a distinctive twist when the assertive maid of the second song stops the frequently recycled witticism in its tracks (‘To call my Virgins freedom back,/ I think it be but vain’); and classical references that presumably made the highly educated feel at home and flattered the intelligence of everyone else (Nero, Helen of Troy, Hero and Leander).

A satisfying frisson of recognition may also have been administered by the line ‘To live with me and be my love’, probably a nod towards the poem by Christopher Marlowe that also existed in broadside form (see Anon, A most excellent Ditty).

Last but not least, Ile never Love thee more had a catchy tune that took on a life of its own, being named on many other ballads while also establishing a reputation as a dance melody (see Featured tune history).  In dancing and ballading alike, part of the fun lay in the way men and women took up positions and then moved around, negotiating a path around one another.

Christopher Marsh


Anon, A most excellent Ditty of the Lovers promises to his beloved (composed before 1600; ‘Printed by the Assignes of Thomas symcock’, 1628-31), EBBA 30141.

Anon, Wit and drollery (1656), pp. 33-4.

Richard Burton, The anatomy of melancholy (1621), p. 636.

James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, ‘My dear and only love, I pray’ (written c. 1643) in James Watson (publisher), A choice collection of comic and serious Scots poems (Edinburgh, 1706), pp. 107-12.

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘O no, no, no, not yet’ (standard name: I’ll never love thee more)

The purpose of this section is to provide brief notes on the melody followed by detailed evidence relating to  its career, paying particular attention to the ‘echoes’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was nominated for the singing of more than one ballad. In the list presented in the ‘Songs and Summaries’ section below, we have endeavoured to include as many of the black-letter ballads that used the tune as possible, under any of its variant names. Titles from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type (these are also in colour when there is a link to the relevant ballad page on the website). It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).  In most cases, we list the earliest surviving edition of a ballad, though in many instances there may have been earlier versions, now lost.

Versions and variations

This tune probably originated in the early decades of the seventeenth century and it became known variously as ‘I’ll never love thee more’, ‘O no, no, no, not yet’ and, less frequently, ‘My dear and only love take heed’. All three titles derive from the text of our hit ballad. We have notation for the tune from the mid-seventeenth century onwards and there are examples in several sources: John Gambles’s manuscript commonplace book (1659); John Playford’s Dancing master, in editions published from 1686 onwards; and the Leyden manuscript book for lyra viol, dating from the very late seventeenth century.

These versions are all very clearly the same tune, though there are some subtle variations between them: Playford’s version, for example, is a little more complex than Gamble’s and it reaches a higher note at its mid-point. We have chosen the Gamble rendition of the tune for our recording. The tune was also written down regularly during the eighteenth century, by which time it had come to be associated with Scotland (see ‘Postscript’, below).

Echoes (an overview)

This was a popular melody throughout the seventeenth century, though its success may have waned in the last two decades. It was, above all, a love-tune, and twelve of the seventeen ballads listed below have conventional male-female romance as their primary theme. These included upbeat songs about happy courtships and marriages (see, for example, Good Sir, you wrong your Britches) but a majority of the romantic ballads concentrated on the frustration and the anguish of love (A pleasant Ditty, of a Maydens Vow, That faine would marry, and yet knew not how is a good example).

More than once, we can detect creative interplay between the positive and negative possibilities that the tune came to express. Our hit ballad, Ile never Love thee more, includes two distinct songs on a single sheet, one representing an unpleasantly jealous male and the other describing the ultimately successful courtship between a young man and a maid (the refrains of the two songs both served as tune titles in the decades ahead). And Tis not otherwise: OR: The praise of a married life appears to be a direct and positive response to Any thing for a quiet life, in which a feeble man regrets his marriage and warns others to think carefully before tying the knot.

The tune’s associations with love must also have brought additional depth to the small number of ballads that applied it to other types of text. In A pleasant Dialogue between the Country-man and Citizen, for example, two men declare their devotion to General Monck at the time of Charles II’s Restoration and express their hope that this ‘bonny Lad’ will usher in a new age of peace and prosperity (one suspects that the romance of the tune created a humorous frisson when the song was performed in the presence of the General himself).

Comparable undertones were generated by two ballads that presented fierce criticisms of various social types. In DEATHS DANCE, the figure of Death works his way through society, reminding everyone of his power over them (one line runs, ‘If Death should proove a Gentleman,/ and come to court our Dames...’). And in A Fooles Bolt is soone shot, a similar role is played by a court jester with a bow and arrow. In both cases, the tune generates the darkly humorous possibility that we are being courted by those who mean us harm (and the fool’s bolts remind us of Cupid’s darts, themselves a staple ingredient of many love-ballads).

These ballads were connected not only by their shared tune and themes but also by some direct intertextual references. Admittedly, these are not as common as in ballads set to some other tunes, but there are a few notable examples nonetheless. In The more Haste, the worst Speed, the line, ‘am of a pregnant wit’, recalls ‘and with a pregnant wit’ in Ile never Love thee more. At several points, Tis not otherwise echoes Any thing for a quiet life, the song to which it is an answer. Across four of the ballads listed below, the word ‘marry’ is rhymed with ‘tarry’ on seven occasions. And the white-letter text, A Proper New Ballad, contains several references to Ile never Love thee more (in one or both of the two variant versions listed below): compare, for example, the opening lines ‘My dear and only love I pray’ and ‘My dear and only love take heed’ (version 1); or ‘As Alexander I will reign,/ and I will reign alone’ and ‘like to Alexander will I prove,/ for I will Raign alone’ (version 2). The two songs also share the same refrain.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the fourth verse of The faythfull Lovers resolution also appears, almost verbatim, at the opening of another hit song set to a different tune, namely A Good Wife, or None.

[See 'Postscript', below, for additional notes on this melody].

Songs and Summaries

Ile never Love thee more... To a new Tune called, O no, no, no, not yet (originally composed c. 1615; F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. C[larke], 1675-80). Pepys 3.266; EBBA 21280. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Bodies – looks/physique; Emotions – love, jealousy, suspicion; History – ancient/mythological; Recreation – walking. In the first half, a jealous man threatens to abandon his sweetheart if she proves unfaithful; in the second half, a different couple participate in a merry dialogue and she succumbs to his romantic advances after her initial expressions of reluctance.

Any thing for a quiet life; Or the Married mans bondage to a curst Wife. To the tune of Oh no, no, no, not yet; or Ile never love thee more (G. P.,1615-24). Pepys 1.378-79; EBBA 20175. Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity, courtship; Family – pregnancy/childbirth; Recreation – fashions, food, hospitality, good fellowship; Society – neighbours; Emotions – sorrow; Humour – mockery.  A young man marries a domineering woman and regrets it immediately and forever after.

Tis not otherwise: OR: The praise of a married life... To the tune of, I’le never love thee more (‘Printed at London by G. E., 1615-24). Pepys 1.394-95; EBBA 20183. Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity; Recreation – games, alcohol, good fellowship; Family – pregnancy/childbirth. A young man celebrates the benefits of marriage in answer to an earlier ballad, probably Anything for a quiet life.

Good Sir, you wrong your Britches, Pleasantly discoursed by a witty Youth, and a wily Wench... To the tune of Oh no, no, no, not yet: Or, I’le never love thee more (J. T., 1615-26). Pepys 1.280-81; EBBA 20130. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity, Cupid; Humour – mockery. A man declares his love for a woman but she scorns him, relenting only at the end.

DEATHS DANCE. To be sung to a pleasant new tune, called, Oh no, no, no, not yet, or the meddow brow (H. Gosson, 1615-31). Pepys 1.56-57; EBBA 20263. Death – general, burial/funeral; Economy – livings, hardship/prosperity, money, trade; Emotions – fear; Employment – professions, crafts/trades, urban; Gender – femininity, masculinity; Morality – general, social/economic; Places – English; Recreation – games/sports, sight-seeing, alcohol, dance; Gender – courtship; Society – urban life. This imagines death moving stealthily through society and scaring all and sundry into moral and responsible conduct.

A pleasant Ditty, of a Maydens Vow, That faine would marry, and yet knew not how. To the tune of, O no, no, no, not yet (H. G., 1615-40). Roxburghe 1.280-81; EBBA 30198. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Bodies – physique/looks; Emotions – longing, sorrow. A maiden delays too long in agreeing to marry a man, and by the time she makes up her mind, he seems to have changed his.

The faythfull Lovers resolution, being forsaken of a coy and faythles Dame. To the tune of, My deere and only Love take heed (P. Birch, 1618-23). Pepys 1.256-57; EBBA 20118.  Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity, Cupid; Emotions – anger; Environment – birds. A man blames a woman for rejecting him and resolves to lie alone in the future, and the woman tells him to cease complaining because it is her right to choose a sweetheart for herself.

A man cannot lose his money, but he shall be mockt too... To the Tune of Oh no, no, no, not yet (Francis Grove, 1623-62). Pepys, Loose Ballads; EBBA 20219. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Humour – deceit/disguise, mockery; Morality – sexual; Recreation – food; Bodies – clothing. A naive young man is tricked out of his money by a crafty woman who falsely promises to marry him.

A Fooles Bolt is soone shot... To the Tune of, On no no no not yet (J. G, 1630-38). Pepys 1.178-79; EBBA 20079.  Society – criticism, old/young; Employment – professions, apprenticeship/service, sailors/soldiers; Family – children/parents, inheritance; Gender – courtship, marriage, femininity, masculinity; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual, social/economic; Recreation – alchohol, games/sports; Religion – Christ/God, sin/repentance; Bodies – clothing; Economy – hardship/prosperity, money. A wise fool takes aim at many different social types, male and female, accusing them variously of hypocrisy, immorality, irreponsibility and a variety of further failings.

The Tragedy of Hero and Leander: OR, The Two Unfortunate Lovers...To a pleasant new Tune, Or, I will never love thee more (R. Burton, 1640-76). Euing 347; EBBA 32035. Gender – courtship; History – ancient/mythological; Emotions – love, hope, anxiety, despair; Death – accident, tragedy, heartbreak, grief; Environment – sea, buildings, landscape; Places – European, extra-European, travel/transport; Bodies – looks/physique, clothing. This tells the tragic Greek story of Leander, who drowns while trying to reach Hero, who finds his body and dies in despair.

A pleasant Dialogue between the Country-man and Citizen, presented to my Lord Generall and Councell of State... The tune is, ile never love thee more (no imprint, c. 1660). Roxburghe 2.259; EBBA 30716. Politics – celebration, domestic, Royalist; Recreation – good fellowship; Emotions – hope; Gender – masculinity; History – recent; Economy – hardship. A dialogue ballad in which a countryman and a citizen welcome General George Monck to London and anticipate his role in restoring order to England after the extreme turbulence of the 1640s and 1650s.

Britains Vallour... To the Tune of, O no, no, no, not yet (F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright, 1665-74). Bodleian 4o Rawl. 566(185). History – ancient/mythological, medieval; Emotions – pride, patriotism; Recreation – fairs/festivals; Environment – crops, weather, seasons; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Gender – masculinity; Places – nationalities, European; Politics – domestic; Religion – saints; Royalty – general; Violence – between states. This delivers a whistle-stop tour of Britain’s history, commending the bravery of the ancient Britons and the more recent Welsh, while celebrating St. David’s Day.

Ile never love thee more... To a rare Northern Tune, Or, Ile never love thee more (W. Whitwood, 1666-84). Bodleian Douce Ballads 1(101b). [This is another edition of the hit ballad but the text is substantially different and the second song does not feature]. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Bodies – looks/physique; Emotions – love, jealousy, suspicion; History – ancient/mythological; Violence – general; Religion – pilgrimage, angels/devils; Recreation – music. A jealous man threatens to abandon his sweetheart if she proves unfaithful in any way, and he plans his strategy for dealing with the disappointment.

A PROPER NEW BALLAD, / Being the Regrate of a true Lover, for his / Mistriss Unkindnesse. To a new Tune, I'le ever love the more (no imprint, c. 1670-80?). Roxburghe 2.574; EBBA 31186. Gender – courtship; Bodies – looks/physique, clothing; Environment – birds, weather, animals, landscape;  Emotions – longing, sorrow, hope.  A man laments the fact that the woman of his dreams does not love him, but he has not quite given up hope.

The more Haste, the worst Speed: / OR, / The Unfortunate Maids Complaint in private... To the Tune of, O no, no, no, not yet: Or, What shall I do, shall dye for love (P. Brooksby, 1670-98). Roxburghe 4.62; EBBA 31361. Gender – courtship, femininity, sex; Emotions – frustration, anxiety; Employment – female, crafts/trades, sailors/soldiers, alehouses/inns, apprenticeship/service; Humour – bawdry; Bodies – looks/physique; Economy – livings, money; Family – children/parents; Recreation – food. A girl of fifteen expresses sorrow that no suitor has so far approached her, and she outlines the many wifely skills that she could bring to a marriage.

The Pensive Prisoners Apology... Tune of, Love with unconfined wings, Or, No, no, no, not yet (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Pepys 2.80; EBBA 20704. Crime – prison; Religion – Christ/God, faith, Catholicism/Protestantism, saints; Death – godly end; Emotions – love, hope, joy; Environment – birds, weather, animals. A prisoner explains that, despite his confinement, he enjoys true liberty as a result of his love for his sweetheart and his faith in Christ.

The Swimming Lady: Or, A Wanton Discovery... Tune of, I’le never l[o]ve thee more (J. [W]right, J. clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1682-84). Pepys 4.20; EBBA 21687. Bodies – looks/physique, clothing; Gender – sex, sexual violence, courthsip, masculinity, femininity; Crime – rape; Emotions – longing, despair; Environment – landscape, weather, animals; Violence – sexual. A beautiful woman, believing herself to be alone, bathes naked in a stream, but a spying man – whom she has previously rejected – comes forward and has sex with her by force, leaving the woman with no option but to marry him.


The tune was also nominated for the singing of several white-letter ballads, including the following: A DIALOGUE Betwixt TOM AND DICK (1660?) – see also A pleasant Dialogue between the Country-man and Citizen, above; and A Proper New BALLAD (c. 1700?). The second example includes verses written by James Graham, the Marquess of Montrose (see Related texts), and his choice of an originally English tune helps to account for its strong association with Scotland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (the tune also has a Celtic lilt that seems to reinforce the connection).

Christopher Marsh


Jeremy Barlow (ed.), The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford’s Dancing Master (1985), no. 251.

John Gamble, Drexel 4257: John Gamble, ‘His booke, amen 1659’, English Song 1600-1675, vol. 10, song no. 272.

John Leyden, Lyra viol manuscript (after 1690; held in Newcastle University Library), no. 59.

Christopher Marsh, Music and society in early modern England (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 308-09.

John H. Robinson, ‘John Leyden’s lyra viol manuscript’, The Viola da Gamba Society Journal, 2 (2008), pp. 17-57

Claude Simpson, The British broadside ballad and its music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 355-57.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Respectful man in archway

The purpose of this section is to provide evidence relating to  the career of the image under discussion, paying particular attention to the ‘reflections’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was chosen to illustrate more than one ballad. The list given below includes all ballads from the Pepys and Roxburghe collections that feature this woodcut or a close variant (these are the two largest collections, including approximately 3300 sheets, in total). References to ballads from other collections occur only when the featured edition of the song under consideration here (or the featured edition of another song from our list) comes from such a source. Ballads from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type, and they also appear in colour where there is a link to another song in the database. Please note, however, that the editions of hit songs listed below are not necessarily those for which digital images are presented on this website. Cross-references to other examples of our featured woodcuts are also presented in bold. It is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).

Reflections (an overview)

This man, like Respectful man with tufts of grass, was associated strongly and primarily with generally wholesome courtship. On most of the songs that feature him, he represents romantic men who deserve our admiration or sympathy. It seems clear that his deferential gestures resonated more strongly of love-courtesy than of social respect between men. There are also a few ballads in which the central male characters are less impressive – on one ballad, he is apparently the sexually inadequate husband about whom a wife complains – but his reputation was overwhelmingly positive. The appearance of Respectful man in archway over the second, happier half of Ile never Love thee more is firmly within this tradition.

The woodcut was popular between the 1670s and the 1690s, and it existed in several slightly different versions. Sometimes the man faces left, and sometimes he faces right (presumably a result of copying the image from print rather than from an existing block). Many different publishers issued ballads featuring the image, and it is therefore clear that several printers saw the value in owning a version of the block. Individual publishers were not associated with one particular version of the the woodcut. Brooksby, for example, issued ballads bearing images of Respectful man in archway that were created from at least three different woodblocks.

Songs and summaries

The West-Country Jigg: OR, Love in Due Season (no imprint, c.1670).  Roxburghe 2.506-07; EBBA 31010. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Emotions – frustration, longing, contentment; Environment – birds, flowers/trees, weather. A young woman moans alone because she cannot find a husband, but fortunately a young man overhears and, after a brief verbal exchange, they resolve to spend their lives together (picture placement: in a reversed version, he appears on the right, alongside a woman who, like him, stands beneath an arch).

The Crafty Maid of the West: OR, The lusty brave Miller of the Western Parts finely trapan'd (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Pepys 4.17; EBBA 21684. Gender – courtship, sex, masculinity, femininity; Humour – deceit/disguise, bawdry; Morality – romantic/sexual; Employment – female/male, crafts/trades; Bodies – health/sickness; Recreation – hospitality. A lustful miller is comprehensively out-witted and humiliated by a young woman who puts chopped horse-hair and nettle seeds to good use (picture placement: he faces a young woman and a tree, with a windmill at his back).

A Good Wife is a Portion every day. OR A Dialogue discovering a good Wife from a bad (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.191; EBBA 30662. Gender – courtship, marriage, femininity; Economy – household; Employment – female/male; Family – children/parents. This advises men on the immense value of a virtuous wife and the dangers that follow on from a poor choice of partner (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, sandwiched in between two women).

Loves better then Gold: OR, MONEY's an Ass (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 4.20; EBBA 30938. Gender – courtship, marriage; Bodies – physique/looks, adornment; Emotions – love, contentment; Economy – money; Society – criticism, rich/poor. A man criticises others for placing wealth above love in courtship, and he boasts that his mistress Nancy, though not rich, is more pleasing to him than any other woman could possibly be (picture placement: in a reversed version, he appears beneath the title, next to a woman who, like him, stands beneath an archway).

Shall I? shall I? No, No (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.421; EBBA 30886. Gender – sex, masculinity, femininity, courtship; Emotions – longing, contentment; Recreation – alcohol, walking; Morality – romantic/sexual. A young man, burning with desire for a woman, courts her relentlessly until, eventually, she agrees to have sex with him (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, alongside a young woman in a rural setting).

Tom Farthing: OR, The Married Womans Complaint (P. Brooksby, 1670-98).  Roxburghe 2.447; EBBA 30922. Gender – marriage, sex, masculinity, femininity, courtship; Humour – bawdry, domestic/familial; Emotions – longing, frustration. A woman reveals her frustration at the sexual inadequacy of her husband, and resolves to find satisfaction elsewhere (picture placement: in a reversed version, he stands beneath the title, next to a woman in a similar archway).

The Country-mans care in choosing a Wife: OR, A young Batchelor hard to be pleased (imprint missing, 1670-1700?). Roxburghe 2.76; EBBA 30547.  Gender – courtship, femininity; Employment – female/male, crafts/trades; Society – rural life. A fussy countryman reviews his romantic options, listing the various types of women that he has rejected before settling finally and happily upon a rich farmer’s daughter (picture placement: he appears in a reversed version on the right side of the sheet, alongside a woman who stands in a similar archway).

Fancies Favourite: OR, The Mirror of the Times (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Pepys 3.29; EBBA 21024. Gender – courtship, masculinity; Emotions – love; Morality -  general; Nature - birds. A woman explains that she has revoked her previous decision to live singly after discovering the perfect man (picture placement: he gestures towards a woman who stands in an almost identical interior).

Ile never Love thee more being a true Love Song between a young Man and a Maid (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80). Pepys 3.266; EBBA 21280. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Bodies – looks/physique; Emotions – love, jealousy, suspicion; History – ancient/mythological; Recreation – walking. In the first half, a jealous man threatens to abandon his sweetheart if she proves unfaithful; in the second half, a different couple participate in a merry dialogue and she succumbs to his romantic advances after her initial expressions of reluctance (picture placement: he appears over the final column of text, gesturing towards a young woman in a field who holds a hand out towards him).

Loves Mistresse: Or Natures Rarity (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke, 1675-80).  Pepys 3.12; EBBA 21005. Gender – courtship; Death – tragedy, heartbreak; Emotions – love, sorrow; Nature – general; Religion – spirits. Amintas appeals to the spirits in the air, and expresses his despair at the death of his beloved Cloris (picture placement: he approaches a woman who appears to reach out towards him).

Loves Tyranny: OR, Death more welcome then Disdain (no imprint, 1678?).  Roxburghe 2.314; EBBA 30765. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Death – suicide, heartbreak; Emotions – despair; Religion – ancient gods, body/soul; Violence – self-inflicted. Leander loves Roxanne but she is not interested in him, so, in despair, he takes his own life (picture placement: he stands beneath the title, in between a sad-looking man and a woman in a similar archway).

Repentance too Late: Being fair Celia's complaint of the loss of her Virginity (F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1680).  Pepys 3.386; EBBA 21402. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – sorrow; Death – heartbreak. A young woman regrets losing her virginity to an untrustworthy man and, having advised others to avoid the same fate, she dies (picture placement: he gestures towards a woman who stands in a very similar interior).

The Willow Green turned into White; Or, The Young mans Joy and the Maids Delight (F. Cole, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1680-81). Pepys 3.33; EBBA 21029. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love. A woman reassures a man that she loves him truly, and they resolve to marry (picture placement: he stands to the right of another gesturing man and a  young woman).

The Resolute Gallant. Who bends his mind to nothing but be merry, And counts no Physick like to good Canary (M. Cole, T. Vere, J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, 1681-82). Pepys 3.56; EBBA 21053.  Bodies – health/sickness; Gender – sex; Humour – bawdry; Places – English; Recreation – alcohol, good fellowship. A somewhat rambling ballad that describes, in turn, the charms of Godling town, the curative powers of sex and the cheering properties of alcohol (picture placement: he gestures in the direction of a young woman with ringlets).

The Seamans leave taken of his sweetest Margery (I. Wright, I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1682-84).  Pepys 4.158; EBBA 21820. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love; Employment – soldiers or sailors. A dialogue ballad in which a seaman and his sweetheart bid one another a fond farewell (picture placement: in an reversed version, he appears on the right side of the sheet, apparently making his way towards a seascape).

The Shepherds Joy Renewed (J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackery, and T. Passenger, 1682-84).  Pepys 4.53; EBBA 21719. Gender – courtship, femininity; Emotions – sorrow, love; Employment – agrarian; Death – heartbreak; Nature – animals. Cloris pines for Coridon in his absence but is heartened and reassured when he returns from a trip to locate his lost sheep (picture placement: he gestures towards a young woman who stands in the countryside, outside a house).

The Lamentation of Seven Journey men Taylors, Being sent up in a letter from York=Shire, and writen in verse by a wit (J. Deacon, 1684). Pepys 3.337; EBBA 21352.  Gender – sex, masculinity, adultery/cuckoldry;  Humour – extreme situations; Morality – romantic/sexual; Family – children/parents; Crime – punishment; Places – English. A woman claims that any one of seven young tailors might be the father of her illegitimate child, so a judge requires them all to pay towards the infant’s upkeep (picture placement: in a reversed version, he appears beneath the title with his back to an image of a woman and five men).

The true Lovers Good-morrow (J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86).  Pepys 3.64; EBBA 21063.  Gender – courtship; Recreation – fairs/festivals; Emotions – love; Morality – romantic/sexual; Nature – animals, birds, flowers and trees. On Valentine’s Day, a man meets a woman and persuades her to marry him (picture placement: in a reversed version, he gestures towards a woman who stands in a very similar interior).

The two faithful Lovers (I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger, 1684-86).  Pepys 3.325; EBBA 21340. Gender – courtship, cross-dressing; Death – tragedy, grief; Emotions – love, sorrow; Places – European; Politics – domestic. A woman travels in disguise to Venice with her sweetheart because she cannot bear to be parted from him but, on this occasion, there is no happy ending (picture placement: in a reversed version, he gestures towards a woman who stands in a very similar interior).

THE Poor Contented Cuckold (James Bissel, 1684-1700).  Pepys 4.133; EBBA 21797. Gender – marriage, adultery/cuckoldry, sex, masculinity, femininity; Humour – mockery, bawdry, domestic/familial; Emotions – anger, anxiety; Employment – prostitution, female/male; Morality – romantic/sexual. A foolish cuckold describes his unsuccessful attempts to make money by pimping for his whorish and domineering wife (picture placement: he stands on the right side of the sheet, alongside a woman in a country setting who reaches a hand towards him).

An Antidote of Rare Physick. No rarer thing that you can find, To Cure a Discontented mind (J. Deacon, 1685). Pepys 2.46; EBBA 20670. Emotions – contentment; Religion – Christ/God, divinie intervention; moral rules; Society – criticism, rich/poor; Morality – general. People are advised to seek spiritual contentment through acceptance of misfortune as the will of God (picture placement: in a reversed version of the woodcut, he appears over the opening verses, in between a well-dressed man with a stick and a Welcoming woman).

Wanton wenches of Wiltshire Being a Pleasant Discourse between Four young Females, as they Sat together in a convenient place to scatter their Water (J. Back, 1685-88). Roxburghe 2.492; EBBA 31001. Gender – courtship, masculinity, femininity; Humour – bawdry, deceit/disguise; Bodies – bodily functions, physique/looks; Emotions – frustration, longing; Recreation – food; Places – English. Four young women urinate in the countryside while complaining about the romantic inadequacies of the local men, two of whom observe them from a secret hiding place (picture placement: he is one of two men who appear on the right side of the sheet, looking over towards four women on the left).

The Wealthy Grasier's Joys COMPLEATED.  Or, The Shepherd's beautiful Daughter obtained (J. Deacon, 1685-88). Pepys 3.168; EBBA 21180. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love; Employment – agrarian. A rich man promises love and a life of plenty to his chosen woman, and she agrees to marry him (picture placement: he stands on the far right, alongside a young woman and a farmer with livestock).

The Conceited Bell-man: Or, the Sawcy Servant (‘Printed for the Sawcy Bell-man’, 1680s?).  Pepys 4.262; EBBA 21923. Employment – urban; Economy – livings; Society – rich/poor, urban life; Emotions – anger. This describes a disreputable bell-man who writes verses criticising his social superiors (picture placement: he appears on the right side of the sheet, alongside another man who gestures in his direction).

Cupid's Courtesie: OR, THE Young GALLANT Foil'd at his own Weapon (W. O. and A. M., 1689-1708) Roxburghe 2.58-59; EBBA 30481. Gender – Cupid, courtship; History – ancient/mythological, Romance; Emotions – disdain, anger, longing, contentment; Environment – flowers/trees, birds; Religion – ancient Gods; Violence – punitive. A young man makes the mistake of belittling and patronising Cupid, so the boy with the bow lets fly in order to teach him a lesson (picture placement: he appears, in a reversed version of the image, beneath the title and next to Cupid, who aims an arrow straight at him).

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

The texts that are listed below in chronological order relate to this ballad’s main claim to fame: it clearly influenced, even shaped, a famous poem by James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, one of the finest Scottish generals of the early-modern era. While valiantly defending the interests of Charles I in Scotland during the 1640s, Montrose somehow found time to pen five verses that conflated romantic and political devotion in such a way that it seems difficult to know whether he was addressing his wife, his nation, or both.

It is also unclear whether Montrose intended his poem to be sung but he clearly drew inspiration from the first song on the ballad sheet. Most notably, Montrose opens with the line, ‘My dear and only love, I pray’ (compare ‘My dear and only love, take heed’ in the ballad). He also deploys the expression ‘I’ll never love thee more’ (with variations) at the close of each verse, just as the ballad does. The poem’s central theme – the author’s deep love for a potentially unreliable mistress – is also shared with the ballad. Overall, there can be no doubt that Ile never Love thee more was either lying on Montrose’s desk or ringing in his ears as he composed his somewhat tortured verses in c. 1643.

The common ballad inspired the aristocratic poem during the Civil Wars but, after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the current of influence seems to have flowed the other way. Montrose was dead by this time, having been executed in 1650, but his words lived on. When the publisher William Whitwood issued a new edition of the hit ballad, some time between 1666 and 1684, one of the additional verses that he included clearly drew upon Montrose’s poem. Montrose had written, ‘Like Alexander I will reign,/ And I will reign alone;/ My thoughts shall evermore disdain/ a Rival on my Throne’. The balladeer’s version is strikingly similar: ‘Like to Alexander will I prove,/ for I will Raign alone,/ I’le have no partners in my love,/ nor Rebel in my Throne’.

Some time later, A Proper New BALLAD, set to the tune of ‘I’le never Love thee more’, was published in white-letter, revealing a new stage in the intertwining histories of the song and the poem. The first five verses are the ones written by Montrose. The ‘second part’ of the ballad, however, opens with the opening five verses of the original ballad, largely as they appear in our featured edition. These are followed by eight additional verses, seven of which are apparently new and one of which is lifted, with alterations, from the Whitwood edition of Ile never love thee more. This late text therefore conflates several different sources, and the handwritten annotation, ‘MONTROSE’S LYNES’, added by a collector to one surviving copy, is rather misleading.

All in all, this complicated thread of creativity and publication demonstrates how a single song could travel between different social levels, different sub-cultures of print (black-letter and white-letter balladry) and different countries, shifting and developing as it went.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Montrose’s celebrity ensured that his verses survived into later centuries much more strikingly than did the original ballad (though several editors followed the collector quoted above in attributing verses from the broadside song to the Marquess). The poem passed into the canon of Scottish verse and has been re-printed in countless anthologies (see, for example, Watson, W. C., Ramsay, Ritson and Johnson).

In the mid-nineteenth century, editions of Johnson’s Scotish musical museum presented it alongside an altered but clearly recognisable version of the original ballad tune – now heard as distinctively Scottish despite its English origins - but modern folk-singers tend to use a different melody.

And four of Montrose’s lines appear in numerous dictionaries of quotations: 'He either fears his Fate too much,/ Or his Deserts are small,/ That puts it not unto the Touch,/ to win or lose it all’. Remarkably, these lines were also included in General Montgomery’s speech to the allied forces, delivered on the eve of the Normandy landings in 1944. He presumably had no idea that Montrose, though brave and original, had been sitting on a ballad.

Christopher Marsh

Texts (in chronological order)

Adam Fox, personal communication. I am very grateful to Adam for discussing the history of this ballad in Scotland with me.

James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, ‘My dear and only love, I pray’ (written c. 1643) in James Watson (publisher),  A choice collection of comic and serious Scots poems (Edinburgh, 1713), pp. 107-12.

Ile never love thee more (William Whitwood, 1666-1700), Bodleian Library, Douce 1(101b), Bod3432.

A Proper New BALLAD (c. 1700?), Bodleian Library, Firth b. 33(69), Bod7899.

James Watson (publisher),  A choice collection of comic and serious Scots poems (Edinburgh, 1706), pp. 107-12.

W. C., The Edinburgh miscellany (Edinburgh, 1720), pp. 62-7.

Allan Ramsay, The tea-table miscellany: or, A collection of Scots songs (1759), pp. 95-99.

Joseph Ritson, Scottish songs in two volumes (1794), vol. 2, pp. 59-61.

James Johnson, The Scotish musical museum, 6 vols. (Edinburgh, 1787-1803; edition of 1839), vol. 5, p. 464.


The Corries, live recording of ‘My dear and only love’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udIvIn1fhbA 

Bernard Montgomery, speech (5 June 1944): https://speakola.com/ideas/general-bernard-montgomery-d-day-speeches-1944

The Oxford dictionary of quotations, 5th edition (Oxford, 1999), p. 529.

David Stevenson, ‘Graham, James, first marquess of Montrose’, Oxford dictionary of national biography.

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Ile never Love thee more/ being a true Love Song between a young/ Man and a Maid.  To a new Tune called, O no, no, no, not yet.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


MY dear and only love take heed,

how you your self dispose

And let no wandring lovers feed,

on such like looks as those,

Ile marble wall thee round about,

being built without a door,

Where if thy heart but once break out

Ile never love thee more,


Let not their oaths (like Vollies shot)

make any breach at all,

For smoothness of their cunning plots,

which way to scale the wall:

For balls of wild fire loud consume,

the shrine that I adore,

But if such smoak about thee fume,

Ile never love thee more.


I know thy vertues are so strong,

theyle suffer no sur[p]rise,

Maintained by my love so long,

at last the siege must rise,

And leave the ruler in such health,

and state it was before,

But if thou prove a common wealth,

Ile never &c.


Or if by fraud or by consent,

my heart to ruine come,

Ile nere sound Trumpet as I meant,

nor march by sound of Drum,

But hold mine arms and Ensigns up,

thy falshood to deplore,

And after such a common cup,

Ile never. &c.


Ile do by thee as Nero did

when Rome was set on fire,

Not only all releif forbid,

but backwards did retire:

And scorn to shed a tear to see,

thy spirit grown so poor,

But smileing sing thus unto thee,

Ile never &c.


But if thou wilt continue true

Leander I will prove,

As he to Hero I to you,

will (swimming) drown for love

O be not like to Cressida

as now be lovers store,

That I no cause may have to say,

Ile never &c.


If thou like Helena of Greece,

wilt falsifie thy word,

Thy Jason for the golden Fleece

like measure will afford,

And choose some rare Penelope,

with vertues to adore,

That I may justly say to thee,

Ile never &c.


But if thy heart like milk white snow

will melt and mollifie,

Or as the Turtle true love show

and for our parting dye,

Then shall our loves fast setled be

upon no sandy shore,

And I will say my love to thee,

Ile love thee evermore.


A Young man walked once alone

abroad to take the Air

It was his chance to meet a maid

of beauty passing fair,

He asked her in secrecy,

down by him for to sit,

She answered him with modesty

oh no, no, no, not yet


Forty Crowns I will give thee

sweet heart in good red gold,

To live with me and be my love

say shall the bargain hold,

She answered him most modestly

and with a pregnant wit:

A married wife I will not be,

oh no &c.


Gold and Silver are but dross,

and soon will fade away,

While vertue in a virgins breast,

will have a longer stay,

Then think me not to be so fond,

and of so little wit:

To sell away my liberty,

oh no, &c.


Some of our sex you say are weak

and easie to be woon,

But you shal find in all my way,

your sugred words Ile shun

I will not overtaken be,

in any thing unfit

Nor trust unto a tempting tongue

oh no &c.


Oh be not so unkind my dear,

the young man then replide

The tongue doth tell what pain & grief

we lovers do abide,

If hand and heart but once agree,

commanded is the wit

Then say no more my dear to me,

oh no no, &c.


If I should trust thy wo[r]ds quoth she,

where falshood doth remain,

To call my Virgins freedom back,

I think it be but vain:

Therefore to chuse a man to wed,

requires the closest wit,

Then let me have a time to say,

oh no, &c.


The silver Moon shall shine by day

the golden Sun by night

Ere I leave (quoth he) the way,

that leads me to delight

For silence is a grant in love,

and for a Maiden fit,

Then say no more discourteously,

oh no, no, &c.


The young man and the maiden then

became united friends,

She liked of him and he of her,

and so their woeing ends,

And she the married life did choose,

as it was reason fit,

where neither of them answered more

oh no, no, no, not yet.

London Printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, J. Wright, and J. Clarke.

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This ballad is included according to the criteria for List C (see Methodology). The evidence presented here is accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of 1st January 2024.

New tune titles deriving from the ballad: 'Ile never love thee more' (8 ballads); and 'My dear and only love take heed' (1 ballad).

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Thackeray, 1689.

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 3

No. of extant copies: 3

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 39 references, with no evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud nos. V6933 and 8495).

Pre-1640 bonus: yes [see Song history and Featured tune history].

POINTS: 18 + 10 + 0 + 6 + 3 + 0 + 4 + 20 = 61

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This box will be used to highlight any new information on this song that might come to light after the launch of the website.

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